With contactless payments expected to account for a third of in-store transactions by 2020, supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has joined the likes of Amazon by introducing checkout-free, Apple Store payments at its Clapham North store. If successful, the technology will be introduced to stores around the country.
Sainsbury’s isn’t the first to trial contact-free technology, however. Amazon launched its Amazon Go stores in San Francisco back in January this year which allows customers to purchase products without using a cashier or checkout. It caused an influx of ‘store of the future’ headlines, while Tesco has also joined suit by allowing its customers to use their smartphones to pay for groceries. Switzerland, South Korea and Australia have also introduced innovative technology into their stores, with the UK now following suit.
So, why are high-profile retailers stepping up to provide new and enticing digital experiences for customers? Digital experiences are everywhere, and retailers are consequently creating experiences that blend the physical and digital.
In these new, high-tech stores, shoppers can still physically browse and choose their items, but no longer need to queue to pay, making the shopping experience much faster and more efficient. With 2.5 billion people expected to use smartphones in 2019, Sainsbury’s customers will be able to use the SmartShop app to pay for their shopping. Usability is key for the consumer and is an essential part of user acceptance.
For example, in metropolitan areas, there’s often a long queue for the cashiers at the end of the working day. Introducing this technology will reduce these queues—saving customers time—and will even begin to influence customers as to which shops they go to. As with self-service checkouts, some users might initially be dismissive. However, after the initial implementation, consumers are likely to want widescale adoption across high street stores.
Sainsbury’s new in-store tech
Whereas Amazon Go’s stores use sensors to scan which products its customers are buying and leaving with, Sainsbury’s checkout-free stores use a smartphone app. However, with this new technology comes new challenges for testing teams.
When it comes to testing this technology, different demographics need to be taken into consideration. It’s likely that the younger generation will begin using this technology quickly, but the older generation might take longer to adopt it into their daily lives.
Different demographics are going to naturally use this technology in different ways—but have all those ways been tested? Or, has Sainsbury’s only tested how a software developer would use it? With Sainsbury’s new in-store technology, it’s yet to be seen.
Sainsbury’s new store technology isn’t a stunt or high-tech novelty gimmick, it is providing a consumer service that uses technology to improve the experiences of shoppers. If done well, these stores will undoubtedly delight their customers, and provide the optimum customer experience.
Written by Antony Edwards, CTO of Eggplant